By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI

Capital Press

An Oregon tree fruit growers' cooperative has settled a lawsuit with two chemical suppliers over damaged Anjou pears.

Details of the agreement have not been disclosed in court documents.

According to court documents, Diamond Fruit Growers of Hood River, Ore., initially filed a complaint in August 2008 against Pace International and United Agri Products, alleging the two companies' negligence resulted in the loss of pears worth about $3.45 million.

Pace International and United Agri Products provided the cooperative with a post-harvest pear treatment formula of wax and other chemicals two years earlier, the complaint said.

The lawsuit claimed the two firms failed to properly instruct Diamond Fruit Growers how to mix and apply the formula.

The cooperative also claimed Pace International violated a contract by not providing assistance with automated equipment designed to control fruit decay.

As a result, the pears developed brown spots and rings in cold storage, causing them to be rejected by the cooperative's clients, the complaint said.

Pace International denied the allegations, claiming it did not provide Diamond Fruit Growers with the post-harvest treatment formula that year.

The pear damage was caused by the cooperative's own negligence, since the firm stored fruit while it was still wet, unevenly applied a coating mixture and incorrectly used a fungicide, Pace International said in court documents.

The firm also alleged that United Agri Products advised Diamond Fruit Growers on the formula and urged the cooperative to buy the fungicide from one of Pace International's competitors, rather than its usual fungicide.

United Agri Products countered that it did not provide the cooperative with a post-harvest treatment formula.

Diamond Fruit Growers was responsible for the damage because it failed to follow product label instructions, United Agri Products said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart has now entered a record of case settlement in the lawsuit and ordered the parties to submit final documents by a Nov. 2 hearing, according to a federal court docket.

Staff writer Mateusz Perkowski is based in Salem, Ore. E-mail: mperkowski@capitalpress.com .

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